I welcomed in 2012 sitting in an armchair in my parents’ house and watching Ghost Whisperer on the TV. It was my first party-free New Year Eve for 11 years. I figured I had kind of achieved my NYE-party quota for life and could sit this one out in preparation for the Hereford New Years Day 10K road race.
That’s right people – I chose to run rather than go to the pub. Oh, how I’ve changed… However it is a good job that I only had a couple of glasses of wine with my folks because the Hereford 10K is TOUGH.
The race was a one lap course, starting (and finishing) at the Rowing Club. With only my smart phone for internet access over Christmas I was unable to find a map of the course before the day and so the only information I could find was from previously read reviews that stated it was ‘undulating’, ‘uphill for the first half’ and ‘scenic’. Sounds like running over Hampstead, right? Wrong. This route quite frankly poos all over north London. It looks at Parliament Hill and laughs, gives it the finger and jogs over it without breaking a sweat.
It was definitely the toughest 10K I have ever done, and I think my finishing time of 56:15 reflects just how hard I found it. The course was pretty much uphill for the first 6.5km, then sort of flat and then downhill for the last 1km, doing a gorgeous loop out West of Hereford city towards Breinton, around Breinton village (I think) and then back to the city. At 6km I simply had to walk a few steps and lost about 15 seconds on each km after that rewarding myself with a few walking steps. I ran the hilly Winchester 10K last year with a hangover and that was nothing compared with this, believe me… However, all the hills and turkey belly in the world couldn’t beat the views on the course. As the course looped around Breinton and headed back towards Hereford you could see the City cathedral in the distance and take in the beauty of the Golden Valley. And as the route moved alongside the River Wye for the last 1km you could hear the water bubbling away. Quite how I managed to enjoy that sound whilst gasping for air I’ll never know!
The nicest part of this race though was that my mam and stepdad finally got to see me run. After travelling with me to Cardiff for the half marathon and failing to spot me crossing the finish line, they enjoyed watching the runners in this small, friendly, local race and cheering for me as I descended the final hill. And even a couple of my pals from Hereford came along to cheer at the finish line despite one suffering with food poisoning and the other with pleurisy of the lungs.
Thanks to the Wye Valley Runners for a great start to 2012. The race itself was brilliantly organised with chipper marshals and residents cheering us along the quiet country lanes. And our finishing mementos were fab – welsh slate coasters!